GET YOUR MIND RIGHT

“For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in accord with the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).

This evaluative statement looks back to a mindset Paul holds forth as necessary in the life of faith; that we must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:11). Mentioning it some eleven times in Romans, with four of those in chapter 8, Paul has a continuing emphasis on the role of the mind in the life of faith; a mind that must be shaped by the Spirit if we are to live triumphantly. By definition, a mindset is an established orientation that exercises exclusive dominion over a person’s life. There is no middle ground. One’s mindset is fully established by either the flesh or the Spirit, but never both (Gal. 5:16-17).

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A FULFILLING EXPRESSION

“So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).

Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Mt.5:17). As a result, and because we walk according to the Spirit, we can now fulfill the requirement of the Law, a Law that sees its full fruition in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal.5:14). While the religious faction is preoccupied with the letter of the law, the dotting of every “i” and the crossing of every “t,” the faithful followers of Christ are occupied by the spirit of the law, fleshed out incarnationally at the intersections of human engagement.

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GOD’S INITIATIVE

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).

The Law of God can do some things of significant value: defining sin and the boundaries by which we should live, and setting forth the consequences that come upon those who are disobedient. What it cannot achieve, however, is the transformation of the human heart and the resulting behavior the law requires. As such, God took the initiative to execute what the law could not. This wasn’t some mere accounting procedure, returning us to a zero balance; it necessitated God sending his own son, who knew no sin, to become, for the sake of all who would believe, an offering for sin.

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PLAY TO WIN

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2).

The implication of there being no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus (v.1); having been set from the law of sin and death, should be an ever-increasing sense of liberation. It’s the difference between playing to win and playing to keep from losing. Instead of being preoccupied with not making a mistake, overthinking, overanalyzing, and perfect execution, because of your commitment to following Christ, and the indwelling of his Spirit, you have every resource necessary to offer a prepared execution of the life of faith; to live freely, victoriously, and without reservation.

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GOD-FOCUSED MATURITY

“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:8). 

Spiritual immaturity is characterized by a fixation upon human personalities (v.4). For these the presence, or absence, of a particular individual determines whether or not the person will remain committed to the work of the Kingdom. In contrast, the spiritually mature understand that human personalities come and go and, thus, it in no way impacts their level of commitment to or participation in Kingdom work. Theirs is a God-focused life that recognizes we are but instruments through which he accomplishes his work, as we avail ourselves to him.

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A PROACTIVE LIFE

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage; but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).

Those who are diligent in faith lead proactive lives. Who they are in Christ Jesus predicates every facet of their life. In contrast, most people approach life reacting to the ever-changing circumstances around them. Thus, each day is a directionless pursuit with no clear destination or purpose in sight. The diligence of a proactive life is far more productive than the impoverished responses of a reactionary life.

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AN UPLIFTING SOURCE

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2).

The person of the Holy Spirit is mentioned five times in chapters 1-7, another eight occasions in chapters 9-15, but in Romans 8, he is referenced twenty-one times. Like a powerful Saturn V rocket and its 160 million horsepower, offering 7.6 million pounds of thrust, the Holy Spirit elevates the believer to a life and place the law never could; freeing us from the gravitational pull of condemnation and death associated with the law.

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WORTHY OF PROLONGED REFLECTION

“Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

As a follower of Christ, there is no waiting for the jury to return with the final verdict for your life and destiny. There is no bad news that awaits you on the horizon. The Good News has already been established and decreed. This once-and-for-all declaration from Paul can be rightly appreciated only by those who have known the weight of sin, and the realization of God’s coming judgment. This is hardly just another bible verse.

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ALL OR NOTHING

“For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:18).

Here we find a vivid reminder that obedience under the law is an all or nothing proposition; that good intentions are never sufficient; that there is a curse upon those who do not abide by all the things written in the book of the Law (Gal.3:10). Even Paul, a man who planted churches and was the leading contributor to the New Testament, understood this and would, thus, assess himself as having no good dwelling within. Like Paul, however, we consider ourselvesto be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom.6:11).

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A BELIEVER’S BIOGRAPHY

“For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

While it would be an awkward reading to translate the intensive reflexive pronoun, “I, myself,” for the six times the singular “I” appears in this verse, we can be certain, that as autobiographically Paul may be writing about his own shortcomings in the life of faith, he is writing biographically about every believer. Unbelievers are not preoccupied with such concerns as this; only those who are committed to following Christ and the call of God upon their lives. It is a healthy frustration that continues to refine and draw us closer to the Father.

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